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No matter if the housing market is up or down, you always want to ensure home remodeling projects are wise investments. Luckily, according to Remodeling magazine's Cost vs. Value Report 2011-2012, there are several home improvement projects that will provide significant enjoyment to you now -- and could recoup a majority of your dollars whenever you decide to sell.
According to the report, a midrange bathroom remodel ($16,000) can recoup up to 62 percent of the investment when it's time to sell ... and in the meantime, add significant enjoyment with a new, relaxing retreat.
To start, determine which updates matter most and how much assistance you'll need for each. Complex projects, such as structural, electrical or plumbing changes or installing countertops or flooring, may be best left to the professionals. However, to stretch your budget for the most impact, there are many updates you can tackle yourself.
Painting is an easy and ideal do-it-yourself task that can make a large impact with minimal cost. Similarly, installing new faucets, accessories and showerheads can be simple -- even for a novice. Manufacturers, such as Moen, offer a variety of styles and full collections for complete coordination.
For instance, the Moen Banbury suite offers timeless, traditional styling and is available in several finishes including Chrome, Mediterranean Bronze and Spot Resist Brushed Nickel -- a unique finish that does just what it says, resist fingerprints and water spots.
In addition, Moen offers matching Banbury bath accessories, such as robe hooks, paper holders, towel bars and tank levers, and matching tub and showering products for a completely coordinated and sophisticated look in your new bath. All Banbury products are available at The Home Depot.
Once you've updated your bath; the kitchen is a rewarding home renovation that -- when done moderately ($19,000) -- can recoup up to 72 percent of your investment. Upgrading countertops -- which encompass a large area of the kitchen -- is an ideal place to start.
Based on your budget, you'll need to determine whether to update with a lower-cost laminate or a higher-priced option, such as solid-surface marble or granite, which can offer an upscale look, added durability and functionality.
Next, lighting -- while functional -- also adds a significant style element to a kitchen. Replacing fluorescent fixtures with recessed cans or pendants will add ambiance and luxury to your room.
Similar to your bathroom remodel, outsource tougher projects to professionals and utilize your DIY skills to add the final accents to your new kitchen. Update your old appliances with Energy Star qualified energy-efficient models in new stainless finishes.
Add a splash of paint to the walls and trim for a polished look. Finally, finish off the counter area with a new high-end kitchen faucet. High-arc pulldown styles are the fastest growing kitchen faucet category -- and the new Haysfield and Benton faucets are some of the first to feature Moen's Reflex pulldown system, which offers high-quality performance with secure retraction, exceptional range of motion and generous reach.
It's the first thing that your guests (and future home buyers) see when they approach your home, so if your front door isn't appealing or doesn't have significant energy efficiency features, it's time for an upgrade. A new entry door adds instant curb appeal for a minimal price -- and can recoup up to 60 percent of your investment.
When choosing a new door, fiberglass options, such as the Therma-Tru Classic-Craft Canvas Collection entry door system, a "Best Buy" recipient from a leading consumer magazine, are an ideal choice. The material resists denting and scratching, is easy to maintain and can make your home more energy efficient.
To lower your cost, Therma-Tru offers installation guides to help you install the doors yourself; or for the less adventurous, your local home improvement store often offers installation.
Similar to your front door, replacing your existing windows with new vinyl windows will give your whole home a new look and feel - both inside and out - and payback of up to 68 percent of your investment.
As a larger-scale project, this is likely a project left for the professionals. Look to your local window distributor to refer you to a reputable contractor to ensure your new windows are installed properly.
When it comes to selecting windows, vinyl is an all-around excellent choice. Unlike wood, vinyl windows resist rotting and don't require repainting. And unlike aluminum, vinyl windows will never pit or flake.
Manufacturers, such as Simonton Windows, offer vinyl windows that are made from high-quality vinyl and require almost no maintenance. Plus, you can enjoy a pay off immediately with increased comfort and lower utility bills, while potentially adding significant resale value to your home in the future.
When it comes time to think about home improvement, don't fear. There are many ways to stretch your remodeling dollars to ensure you get the most bang for your buck and enjoy your investment now and in the future.